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Caring community at heart of Coffin Club Hawke’s Bay

Mention “Coffin Club” in a conversation and you instantly capture your audience’s attention.


“What’s that all about?” Many people ask with intrigue.


Well, as Coffin Club Hawke’s Bay Secretary, Helen Bromley, explains, it’s not as morbid as it sounds.


“We actually have a lot of fun,” Helen says. “We all have a good sense of humour and a purpose to what we’re doing.”


That purpose is providing the opportunity for members to create their own personalised coffins as well as assist in manufacturing and donating baby and still-born coffins to Ata Rangi, the maternity ward at Hawke’s Bay Hospital and members of the community who find themselves in need of a baby coffin.


“Some members join with an immediate need for their coffin, some are planning ahead and others are simply members because they wish to help,” Helen says.


“Many people like to have the opportunity to prepare and personalise their final “bedroom” and to have their coffin just how they want it at a minimal cost.”


Coffins are measured, made and decorated onsite by professionally skilled members, at the club’s premises in Sylvan Road, Hastings (the former Hastings Netball Centre). Members pay $30 to join the club (annually), whilst coffins cost $600 and are certified by funeral directors.


The club is a hive of activity when members meet every Tuesday morning from 9am until 12-noon, but, more importantly, they do make time to stop for morning tea and a chat with old and new friends, which is often the best part of the morning.


Recognising the role the Coffin Club Hawke’s Bay plays in achieving ‘Increased Community Participation and Cohesion’, one of Eastern and Central Community Trust’s strategic outcomes, we were delighted to support members with a grant of $2,000 to upgrade their electric woodworking equipment.


“Preparing your own coffin can be fun and empowering. We decorate our coffins to tell our own story and the completed coffin can be used as a storage cupboard, bookshelf, coffee table or whatever people like – they are only limited by their imagination.”


Established in 2014 by Registered Nurse, Grace Terry and her husband Roger, the Coffin Club Hawke’s Bay has drawn attention from all over the world. Helen recalls interviews in the past with New Zealand’s own TVNZ and Stuff, the UK’s Guardian newspaper and the world-renowned New York Times as well as the BBC Washington Post.


With an increase in demand for personalised coffins and easy access to qualified volunteers, it seems Coffin Club Hawke’s Bay will keep people intrigued for many years to come!